A friend of mine asked if I had heard of the witness tree. Her father spoke of it before he passed and she wanted to go visit it. It lies in the beloved wilderness area that my husband and I visit often. Another friend confirmed she has visited this spot and sure enough I found out the location of the witness tree on Google with it’s history and specific directions to it!
This tree is approximately 200 years old now! We HAD to go see it. It is a special tree used in the original surveys of the land as Michigan became a state. It was marked as a witness to the corner of the township with a special marker in it back in the 1850s. The tree is a red pine and it is marked with a sign for it’s historical significance. It is one of the oldest trees I have seen in the woods!
The things this old tree has witnessed because of it’s age. The storms it has weathered! The heat it has endured as well as deep cold of winter. How it hasn’t been struck by lightning, burned in a forest fire or succumbed to disease is another wonder. Mostly, how it hasn’t suffered an early demise due to human activity is amazing.
As we drove to the remote spot, it has a tiny parking lot down a two track. The news article I read reported that they had to change the roadway near the tree as a plow truck had struck the roots and damage it years ago. It has been considered special for a long time.
It has a sign, so I know it is the correct tree. I get out of the truck and cautiously walk the 90 seconds down the dirt path through the woods to see it. I had to pick the hottest day of the summer, I am just getting out of the house with my second Covid infection in 2 months and I am determined to film this spot. Why, I don’t know. I just needed to do it.
I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the tree. It boldly stands in spite of the odds. It is a survivor of all this world could throw at it for the past 200 years. It continues to be tested by the heat, bugs, snow and the storms. It was a young tree of about 20 years old, as confirmed by a family member who is in Forestry, when tagged with the metal plaque as a witness by William Burt. It stands as a reminder of simpler times when this land was wild and unsettled. Now this patch of land is preserved as a wilderness for us to enjoy and to be careful conservators for.
Since we found the tree, it will be visited by my friend who asked about it to remember her father. I will go back to remember the witness tree for inspiring me to not only do what I can to preserve our Earth and forest but to take care of myself so I can tell the tree’s story to others. I will continue to do my best to weather the storms of life as I continue my journey and tell the story about a cool old tree in the woods not far from my home.